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Moving Inspiration from External to Internal

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When I write, I avoid words like “inspiration” or “motivation” and even “willpower.” That may seem odd when the rest of the health & wellness industry seems to live and die by these ideas. They plaster them over sweaty bodies of people exercising and talk about these feeling as though all of us have some infinite reservoir of them hidden somewhere inside. If we can only tap into that reservoir, they seem to suggest, we can lose weight and run a faster mile and set a new personal record on our bench press.

The reality is that feelings of inspiration and even willpower are incredibly limited. They are wonderful for building our momentum when times are great and choices seem easy, but as soon as we hit a rough patch on our journey, their power rapidly fades. This is the moment when you reach for a pack of cookies after a stressful day of work or when you feel too tired to go for your morning walk.

In the face of significant obstacles, these feel-good ideas that we see on motivation posters suddenly wilt, leaving us unequipped to battle our Habits of Disease.

I bring this up because many of us spent last weekend in Austin at the latest Take Shape For Life National Convention. These events are wonderful. They bring people together, and the energy that results is powerful and contagious. Talking with coaches about their work and about our organization gets me excited for the future, and I think it’s fair to say that everyone else in attendance feels the same way.

Feeling inspired and motivated by an event like this is a good thing. Coming up with new ideas and goals for your health and your business is fantastic as well. I want you to succeed, and I want you to make the most of these fleeting moments of high-energy, especially as you return to your normal routine.

Here are some tips for turning inspiration into a long-term plan that you can achieve (for your health and for your business):

  • Set clear goals that are within your control. Knowing where you want to go is the first step in planning your journey. When you set your goals, frame them in terms that put all of the control in your hands. For example, winning a marathon is an admirable goal, but you can’t control how fast someone else runs. Instead, your goal should be something like “complete a marathon with a new personal record for best time.” The shift is somewhat subtle, but it’s important.
  • Break your goals into smaller goals. A big goal is a powerful tool, but asking yourself to jump from 0 to 100 ignores all of the little victories that have to happen along the way. Your inspiration might push you to focus exclusively on the one big idea, and that’s a start, but when you encounter an obstacle being able to focus on the short term will make your goals more achievable. If your goal is to add 100 new clients this year, maybe your first goal should be to add 5. Even though you’re going to the same place, thinking this way should automatically feel easier.
  • Plan for hard times. That might sound pessimistic, but that’s not my intention. Instead, I’m encouraging you to be practical. Every journey has its bumps, and they are far less painful when you put a plan in place to deal with them when your head was clear and you were feeling positive. For example, a flat tire is frustrating, but when you though ahead and packed a spare, you at most lose an hour or two before you get back on the road. In your health or in your business, have a back-up plan. Who will you call when you hit a roadblock? What will you do if you feel yourself lurching toward a midnight binge? When you think ahead and visualize how you will deal with these challenges, you remove some of the chaos and urgency of the moment, which makes it easier for you to choose the healthier option.
  • Collaborate with a friend or colleague. Taking a journey with a friend is not only more fun, it’s more effective. As you lay out your plans for achieving your new goals, talk them through with someone you trust and respect. If this person is setting goals as well, you can share ideas and talk about ways to help each other in good times and in bad. Having someone close-by to hold you accountable and to lean on when you need a hand can sometimes mean the difference between success and failure.

Now that you have a better sense of how to make the most of your inspiration and motivation, share your goals and your plans! Your work might help someone else on their journey!

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